Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vacation Catch-up! Sandbridge Beach 2015

Hello! I'm back from vacation and figured it was about time I posted something. I think it's probably best if I split this up in to two posts or else this is going to go on forever. This is just gonna be a general one of what we were up to, and the second one will be about balancing out food while on vacation. 

Amanda and I met our dad and step-mom part way during the week since we couldn't leave my mom alone for that long. We headed out Wednesday afternoon and left early Sunday morning. We made great time! I think it's because I drove a majority of the way...

We were staying in Sandbridge, which is about half an hour outside the main Virginia Beach. It's much more private, quiet, and less touristy. We did go to the boardwalk one night for like an hour, and that was enough tourist stuff for us haha! It was honestly packed to the brim, and just people everywhere you looked. 

My step-sister and her husband with their two kids, and my step-brother's adopted kids along with my step-mom's mom were also in the house. It was busy, busy, busy especially with a two-year old and an 8-month old but it was a lot of fun. I haven't gotten a lot of time to spend with my step-sisters kids (the 2 and 8-month old) because they live in North Carolina. Amanda joked around that I made a friend because after awhile Andrew (he's 2) was asking for me constantly! It was super cute we were going to bed one night, and he kept saying "I need to say goodnight to Sam" and wouldn't stop until I came to give him goodnight kisses. He also loved helping me crochet and would climb up to sit with me and watch! 

Okay, so back to Wednesday! We left around 1ish and made it in around 9pm. Layla stayed at my aunt's house so we dropped her off and hit the road. She made her displeasure well-known, though, as I was packing...

Her face when we left her there too was almost enough to make me turn right around and cancel the trip haha! Crazy dog lady problems right there. She ended up having a blast, though, as I knew she would. She absolutely adores my 8 year-old twin cousins, and I knew the three of them would have a ball together. 

Virginia is probably my favorite state to drive through because the mountains are so beautiful! I started singing the Sound of Music because #roadtrippin haha! But for reals, Amanda and I were belting it at the top of our lungs in the car because, well, why not??

Every morning without fail, we were both up between 6-6:30 am even with going to bed between 11-12 the night before. It's funny how getting up to see the sun rise on the beach seemed like such a chore when I was younger. It was nice on this vacation because I would either do a devotional, drink my coffee, or chat with my dad since he was the only other person up that early with us. 

And I would get my daily snap chat of Layla! It was pretty ridiculous how much I missed the little goober. She slept in Hannah's bed and needless to say I was super jealous that I was missing out on waking up to her sweet face. 

This was the view from our back deck. We also had a pool which was great. The routine was beach in the morning, dip in the pool, lunch, go back to the beach, then stay in the pool until dinner. Sometimes we'd go for a night swim too. 

We were only about a block from the beach. It's kinda hard to tell from this picture even though I zoomed in, but you can see the start of the beach from the back deck. 

Thursday night we went out to dinner! I got grilled scallops and they were ah-mazing, you can't beat fresh seafood at the beach. 

And we asked for crayons haha! We all pretended like they were for Andrew but every single adult at the table ended up coloring. Of course, I drew a picture of Layla. 

And got more snap chats! I probably got about 20 pictures of her a day from Hannah but I can't say I was complaining about it. 

 Mostly we just hung out and played games as a family. On the beach, I'd help Andrew or Daniil build sandcastles, went for walks with my dad, or played volleyball with Katya. Amanda and I also took a lot of bike rides in the afternoon or did laps in the pool for small workouts. We didn't even turn on the tv once which was great. We are not that type of family to watch tv when we could be doing other things. 

One of the games we played a lot was Jenga! My dad, Amanda, Katya, and I got really in to it because at one point we googled the record for the tallest Jenga tower and apparently it's only 33 stories high! We were able to get 30 and then 32 before they both fell over. 

Evidence that we nearly beat the record! My dad insisted upon trying until we broke the record but sadly we could only do 32 stories! It was still a lot of fun to try. 

Overall, it was great time to spend relaxing since my classes are starting up soon! I'm very excited and nervous at the same time to start grad school, but as the days go by I'm more certain that it's exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

I'll work on getting the other post up soon! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Plyo Leg Circuit

For starters, I've been the worst blogger this week so I wanted to actually post something before I jet off to the beach. And then promptly fall off the grid again haha! Whoops but I'm gonna be on vacation so I have little hope that I'll get to posting anything on here. Amanda and I are meeting our dad and stepmom at the beach for a long weekend. They're already there but Amanda and I couldn't leave our mom alone all week. I'm a little nervous with how she'll do but my family is going to be around to check on her a few times a day plus we'll facetime and call her. I'm also sad that this is the longest Layla and me have ever been apart! I know, I know cue the eye rolls but hey the little bugger is my sidekick and I'm kinda (extremely, entirely, crazily) attached to her at this point.

Back to the real point of this post-- leg workout! I've found that my legs respond really well to a mix of heavy weights and accessory work like plyo/cardio moves. A lot of people say they're afraid to add in cardio or HIIT moves because it might decrease their muscle mass but I haven't found that to be the case at all. I'm all about just doing what I like, and what works for my body!

I also happen to like cardio, and particularly HIIT. I add it in a few times a week but one of my leg days I like to add in accessory work like a HIIT circuit such as this one with a focus on legs. I really liked this workout, and did a variation of it this morning! I switch up my workouts a lot so I added in other moves and substituted other ones to keep my legs guessing. If you try it out, let me know what you think! :)

I have to share this from this morning because I just can't get enough of Layla's cuteness haha! I made overnight oats in my nearly empty jar of White Chocolate Wonderful from Peanut Butter & Co, and Layla just knows she has dibs on the jar when I'm done. It was so funny because she's not allowed to beg so she was sitting at a distance, determinedly not looking at me because, again, she knows that isn't allowed. But she would look at me out of the corner of her eye or just casually glance around like she was looking at something else but in reality I know she was checking to see whether I was done or not haha! 

When I finally was I told her "okay, go ahead" so she knew it was okay for her to come over. She absolutely loves peanut butter (wonder who she gets it from...) so I think she gets just as excited as me when I have this for breakfast! 

Andddd then her face when it was all gone! 

Happy Wednesday everyone! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Million Dollar Question

I had an epiphany the other day, and I'm not talking about my typical ones like what-if-I-put-peanut-butter-on-that but a real, meaningful light bulb moment. It was a pretty big deal considering what it was about. 

It all started with something very silly with my hair being frizzy from the rain, ladies know what I'm saying? It's just an all around problem living in Pittsburgh which I have dubbed the humidity capital of the world. 

Anyway, I found myself wishing that if I could have sleek, humidity-resistant hair like my cousin then I'd be happier. 

I caught myself mid-thought, and really asked myself that question:

Would I be happier?

This then snow-balled in to other things as I started to ask myself if I could change other things about my appearance, would I? But then the million dollar question was if I could suddenly be at a certain weight, would I change that?

At first you would think the obvious response if you asked any girl that seems a resounding yes, right?

But I realized something very, very important. I don't want that because I want to work for it. For me it's not even about getting to a certain weight, but just being comfortable in my skin. I wouldn't even want that at the drop of a dime because I wouldn't have worked for it. What meaning would any of it have if it was just handed to me?

I want the knowledge that everything I have gone through shaped me, both physically and mentally. That it made me exactly who I am today because I don't think God would have put me in those circumstances otherwise. Everything was for a reason, and at the end of the day I want to rest in the comfort that I got to be where I am today because I put in the hard work and trusted God to get me where I needed to be. I learned, I grew from it, and I don't regret a thing. 

The feeling that I get when I PR in the gym is so empowering because I know that I pushed myself to get to that point. Every day that I get stronger, I know it's because I worked my butt off the day before to get to that place. All of that makes me who I am today, and why I appreciate the things that I do. 

Even last year I didn't understand why God had me in the place where I was. Coming from two years of restrictive-binge cycles, body hating, and valuing my worth by a number, I didn't know what the point was. Well, I do now. Call me crazy but I'm thankful for those years. God taught me some very valuable lessons that will carry with me for the rest of my life.

I wasted so much time wishing to be at a certain weight, to see a number I would like pop up on the scale, and that's time I'll never get back. I'm not saying that in a regretful way or trying to get sympathy, but it's a simple fact. I wasted time wishing when I could have been working. I'm thankful that eventually I caught on to God's plan, but I spent too much time on something meaningless.

I realize that this is an entirely hypothetical question because obviously I would not be able to magically be at a certain weight just by answering the question. The point is it's a huge change for me, mentally, to come to the conclusion that I did. Before, I would've jumped at the chance to get to pick that magical number on the scale. I would've thought that being at a certain weight is all it would take to make/keep me happy.

I honestly have not weighed myself in months. I have found my value outside of the scale, and it has been the best thing for my health. My health, both mental and physical, and strength are my focus now. It's not like I even actively started to avoid the scale on purpose, it really and truly just slips my mind. I don't think about it, I don't feel like I have to do it, and so the thought of weighing myself just faded away.

It took time, it took patience, and it took a lot of faith in God. But I know I'm where I am today because I worked for it instead of wishing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cookies 'n Cream Mini Protein Cheesecakes

Wow! So I realized it has been way too long since I actually posted a recipe on here. I've decided I'm pretty bad at balancing between recipes, fitness posts, and other random things. It's like I go through phases where it all seems food-related, then fitness, and then just general stuff about what I've been up to. Ironic that my blog about being balanced needs more balance, huh? 

Anyway, I tested out a recipe this weekend that I'm excited to share with you guys! Funny story but our oven decided to full-on break (it's been like halfway broken for awhile) as I was in the middle of trying to bake these. So I actually made the batter on Sunday and had to wait until last night to fully bake them. I just stuck the tray in the freezer and then defrosted them a bit before popping them in the oven, and they turned out just fine! It was annoying at the time but I did learn that it's possible to make this batter ahead of time before you need to bake them.

When I first go to try out a recipe, there are one of two flavors that you can guarantee:

1. cookies 'n cream

2. cake batter

It's like my brain forgets that there are other flavors haha! But really, those are my two favorites and I will eat anything cake batter or cookies 'n cream without hesitation. I've been hearing a lot about protein cheesecakes and so I wanted to give it a go. As you all probably know by now, I'm in the middle of a love affair with PEScience protein powders, specifically the cookies 'n cream, so I used that for this recipe!

I took this recipe from my lovely coach Katie, and tweaked it a bit!

What you'll need:

1 scoop cookies 'n cream protein powder (I used PEScience)
8 oz cream cheese (reduced or regular)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0% Chobani, my go-to)
2 tbsp baking stevia
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
10g cookies 'n cream pudding mix
pinch of salt

How to make 'em:

1. Preheat oven to 275

2. First, you'll want to fluff up the cream cheese a bit or whatever the culinary technical term for that is haha! I just used my electric hand mixer to beat it for a couple minutes until it was fluffy and smooth without any chunks. 

I like to use this cream cheese from Target. Don't even ask me how to pronounce it, I have no idea. I usually start out by saying something along the lines of "noof" and then trail off randomly at the end. Variations include noofenberger (I have no explanation), noofchatta, noofel, and whatever else my mind can come up with haha! I never remember how to spell it anyway so I just call it the noof cream cheese. 

3. Once the noof cream cheese is all nice and fluffy, it's time to add the vanilla, stevia, salt and egg!

4. I used my very first chicken egg for this recipe! Amanda is all thrilled because all three of the chickens are now officially laying eggs. So I used one of Millie's for this recipe since hers are the largest. 

5. Once that is all incorporated (I just beat it for less than a minute), add the protein powder.

This is definitely where the batter thickened up more but not too much. Just be careful yours doesn't dry out because different protein powders bake differently. I've been very happy with how versatile this one is from PEScience. 

6. Then, add in the pudding mix because I wanted to make absolute sure that these cheesecakes would be packed with the cookies 'n cream flavor. I weighed out about 10g on my scale which is probably around a tablespoon or so. I didn't use the mixer but just folded it in to the batter using a spatula. I didn't want any of the Oreo chunks to get broken up. 

7. Grease a mini cupcake pan and pour about 1 tablespoon of batter in each cup. I got about 18 cheesecakes. You might get more than me because I might have eaten some of the batter as I went along..

8. Bake for about 22-28 minutes until the cheesecakes are set and the edges are getting golden brown. I allowed mine to cool for a couple hours in the fridge. 

The macros ended up being great!

Enjoy! If you end up trying out this recipe, I'd love to see your creations on Instagram so make sure you tag me :) 

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Farmer's Stand & Peanut Butter Overload

Happy Monday everyone! 

Before I dive in to today's post, I honestly just want to say a huge thank-you for the love and support I received from yesterday's post. The funny thing is I wasn't sure how people would respond to it because I never know how that is going to go when I'm so open about my faith. But yet again God has moved in my life, and the more I talk about my faith, the more support I get! So I just wanted to say how thankful I am for everyone's kind words, it honestly means more to me than you guys can know :) 

Okay so back to this post! Amanda and I checked out a new farmer's stand by our house that just opened up this summer. There used to be another family that owned it but they've been gone for a couple summers now. I was really bummed when they left, but I'm so happy that it's back open again! 

We wanted to pick up some fresh vegetables, and specifically corn so we headed over there to try it out. They had tons and tons of free samples which I absolutely loved because free samples are the besttttt. 

We had the corn for dinner that night and it was honestly the best I've had all summer! 

One of the samples were of the tomatoes so me and Amanda tried one of each to see which we liked best. For the life of me I could not pick since they were all so delicious. I didn't want to be that person, though, hogging up all the samples so we just picked one at random! 


I also liked how they had plenty of other stuff for sale supporting other local farms and companies. I try to buy local as much as I can to support smaller businesses in the area.  

I did refrain from buying all the chocolate...this time ;)

We also stopped at the specialty grocery store since there's a great gluten-free section that Amanda wanted to check out. I also had some personal interest invested since I knew there would be tons of peanut butter choices haha! 

It was peanut butter heaven and I was overwhelmed with all the choices. It took me a long time, probably more than I should say hehe, to narrow it down. I eventually decided on Cinnamon Raisin Swirl from Peanut Butter & Co, and Honey Peanut Butter with Pretzel Bits from Wild Friends. Both were delicious! 

I now have a grand total of 13 different flavored nut butters open at my house #sorryI'mnotsorry, and Amanda told me I'm not allowed to buy another jar until I get back down to 5! Insert a million horrified-looking emojis. I just kind of looked at her and then started stuttering "but, but, but" and she was like "no buts!", and then I frantically started looking for loop holes. I did reason with her that the almond butter does not count as peanut butter, the plain one doesn't count either, one is a cookie butter, and one is hers. So I really only have 9 which brings me closer to 5! The struggles of being addicted to peanut butter..

We also had family game night this weekend since it's a fun way to incorporate some therapy for my mom. It might not seem like a lot to people, but it's actually very beneficial for her! In fact, when she was in the brain rehab unit at the hospital, the workers would play a lot of card games and board games with the patients. It's a way to stimulate their mind in a fun way! 

We played Clue since it's pretty much the only board game I will play, and it really makes my mom think. Amanda called it family game night so my argument was that Layla had to be included too haha! I pulled up the chair next to mine so she could sit with me, and it was pretty stinkin' adorable :) buuut my plan of having her own chair didn't work. She ended up sharing my chair a.k.a. I had to sit as forward as possible without falling off as she sat on the back half. She was such a good little game buddy! And she's lucky she's so darn cute. 

I mean, seriously, do I have the cutest dog or what?!

Hope you all have a great start to the week! 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Why I Do Fitness

The past few days I've just really been reflecting on why I do the things I do. Not like in a quarter-life crisis sort of panic where I'm trying to figure out my purpose, but just simply understanding my true motivation and passion. I've been talking it over with a dear friend of mine that I am so incredibly thankful to have found through my coach's team page. We were paired up at random to be accountability partners but I quickly realized it was not by chance at all. God hand-delivered to me the exact person I needed in my life, and I am forever grateful to be given the opportunity to know her. 

I've been talking through things with her because to us we do not want fitness to mean to look a certain way, to get to a certain weight, or to try and meet society's ideal standards. 

My one and true purpose for why I do health and fitness is not for myself, not for society, not for anyone else, but for God. 

I fully believe that physical health, mental health, and spiritual health all go hand-in-hand. God lovingly crafted me to be exactly as I am, imperfections and all. At least what I consider imperfections because to God, our bodies are all perfectly made. Our human nature is what gets in the way of seeing that. We are the ones, not God, to bring ourselves down with mean words, nit-picking, and focusing on our insecurities. 

My body is a temple and I believe I should treat it as such. It is a gift from God, this body and this life that I have. He didn't have to create me, love me, die for me. He chose to. And I had a come to Jesus moment where I made myself think about what is the point of throwing that all away for? Why bring myself down and nitpick things I don't like about my body when it is already perfect in God's image. For the approval of society? For the validation from others?

In all honesty, the opinion of anyone else doesn't matter because I know my true identity in God. I am His, I am a beloved child of God, and that is all the validation I need in life. God does not care if I have a thigh gap, the leanest abs, the tightest glutes, or capped shoulders. No, God sees my heart first and foremost. Physical health is important, yes, but there is a line between health and vanity.

I want to take care of my body because it is a vessel for God, and I want to respect my body as a creation of God and one He thought worth dying for.

I believe God has given us all different passions, talents, and gifts which makes the world a wonderfully diverse place. God gave me a passion for fitness, and I intend to use it. I love the phrase "Fitness is my witness to Christ" because everything I do, including fitness, I want to point to Jesus.

As I mentioned earlier, I have received so many blessings through my coach's group of clients, and by being a part of that wonderful community. If I didn't do fitness, I wouldn't have found my coach, and I would be missing out on all the blessings in my life right now. God has given me such wonderful and meaningful connections with amazing women through our mutual love of fitness. Maybe one day God will use my passion for health and fitness to bring others to Him. Through me and through what I do, someone might come to know Jesus. 

Everything that I have now has all come from God. Yes, I had to work every day and still work for my health and fitness, but without God none of it would be possible. He is my rock and strength, and I know that I can do all things through Him. I pray before my lifts and runs, I pray during, I pray after. It is my time with God, and I am constantly asking him for strength.

When people hear my story and see my transformation from the girl I used to be and who I am now, I don't want them to see anything other than God. I want them to see the evidence of His grace, healing, patience, love, faithfulness, and glory. My story points to God. It shows how He brought me through some of the hardest years of my life, always by my side. Through the mountains and valleys of it all, God was right there with me. At times I would question why I had to go through it all, but standing here today it all seems crystal clear and I am thankful to Him.

So that's why I do fitness. It is a way to point my life to Jesus and brings me closer to Him every single day. When I see what my body is capable of doing, I am in awe of God and what He has created. My body is an amazing gift, and I want to treat it with the respect it deserves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rest Week = the Best Week

From now on, I have decided to implement scheduled rest weeks in to my workout plan. After taking all of last week off to rest and recharge, I'm wondering why I didn't do it sooner! I got the original idea from what I usually do with running. After every six weeks, it's recommended that the 7th week you take your usual weekly mileage and cut it in half. It's meant to be for recovery and to prevent injuries. 

Well then I got the idea to do that for my workouts in general. The combination of running and lifting 6 days a week can take a toll on my body. I always take Sundays off for full rest days and while that definitely helps, it can still all catch up to me. 

I started to notice a pattern where there would be a week where I would just be exhausted. I had little motivation to workout and when I pushed myself, it wasn't worth it. I was way too tired and my workouts suffered from it. I realized the trend which eventually lead me to the idea of a rest week. 

Just taking it easy, focus on stretching, and maybe a couple of light workouts. 

It made all the difference for me!  

I'm the type of person who doesn't have to think twice about working out. I have my workout planned, I wake up in the morning, and I'm excited to get moving! I truly love it, and wouldn't do it otherwise. Well, I noticed that when it was all getting to me I would have second thoughts about working out when I woke up. I was too tempted to push back my alarm and sleep in more. My body wasn't feeling it at all, and it was a struggle to get my butt out of bed. When I'm questioning if I want to workout, losing motivation, or any second thoughts then I know something is up.

Getting up at 5am during the week and since I've lost all ability to sleep in, I don't really get to catch up on sleep during the weekends. I know women who get up at 3:30-4am to workout and honestly my jaw drops at those times! So all you lovely people out there kicking butt before 5am, you're the real MVPs :)

I used to hate/be scared of rest days, and the thought of taking a whole week of them would have given me an anxiety attack, but now I love them. Once I switched my perspective to look at them for benefiting my health, preventing injury, and as an investment in my future health then that made all the difference.

I took all of last week off to sleep in, stretch, do some yoga, recharge, and I feel 100 times better this week! My workouts are back to kicking butt, I feel refreshed, and I'm so glad I took the time to focus on resting up. Towards the end of the week, I did start to miss my lifts and runs so this week I'm even extra excited to be back to the usual grind.

I already have the next week scheduled on my calendar haha!

Hope you're all having a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Weekend Catch-up: Kayaking & a Family Picnic

On Saturday, my whole family met up to go kayaking. We went to a park about 45 minutes from my house, and I had never been there. Well let me tell you, I'll definitely be going back! It's also very dog friendly so that earns it about a million bonus points in my book which means Layla will joining me on my next trip.

Our reservations were at 10am then after kayaking my grandma and grandpa had rented a little pavilion for a picnic! I thought it was just going to be all who went kayaking but tons of people ended up meeting us there, and it all turned in to basically a mini family reunion. That's the way things work in my family- we never know who is going to show up, what's going on, half the time we forget we're supposed to be somewhere, we're terrible at keeping one another in the loop, but if there's food people will come. The only way to describe our family dynamic is organized chaos. So it's always like a fun surprise when people just start showing up!

I didn't take my phone out on the lake for obvious reasons so I don't have any pictures from the kayaking part but I was surprised at the number of people who had their phones out there and taking tons of pictures. They're a lot braver than me because my luck I would've capsized the boat and then it'd be bye-bye new iPhone 6.

So I took all these pictures as we drove over to meet everyone for lunch! It was honestly the perfect day. The weekend overall was amazing because we finally got a break from the scorching hot temperatures. It was probably upper 70s to low 80s but with plenty of clouds for shade and a breeze. 

Kayaking was a lot of fun! We rented 6 tandem ones for the 12 of us. Amanda was my kayak buddy and I made her sit in the back. The guy who was helping everyone get in the kayaks said the strong person goes in the back and the pretty one goes up front haha! I told Amanda if this had required leg strength then we would have switched roles. One of these days I'm hoping my upper body strength will catch up! 

We had the kayaks for an hour so we went all over the lake. The lake itself was an L shape with a little island at one end and a bridge at the other so we went all the way down then did a loop around the island before heading back. Amanda and I would paddle for a bit then drift as we tried to get our tan on. I was the best navigator ever lololol not really Amanda kept yelling at me. Every time she would tell me to be in sync with her paddling, I would start belting 'N Sync at the top of my voice because why not? I also sang Rolling Down the River and Just Around the Riverbend from Pocahontas. 

Yes there were about 20 other kayaks out on the lake. No, I did not know them, and no, I did not care that they heard me haha! Kayaking calls for kayaking themed music! 

My cousins Ben and Jake were teasing me for taking all the pictures since it was so pretty. Then I started taking pictures of them at random, and they didn't think it was as funny anymore ;) 

Just to annoy Jake hehe, I took this picture before he was ready since he had been shoving his face with food. His face says it all haha! He can never stay mad at me though. 

We ended up staying most of the afternoon just catching up and eating plenty of food! My grandma was such a nervous wreck worrying if there would be enough food, and we kept teasing her telling her that the six bins and coolers clearly wouldn't feed us all! Side note: that is complete sarcasm. She seriously brought enough food for about a week. There was probably a total of about 30 of us at one point because like I said, my grandma and grandpa pretty much told everyone they knew about it! It was a blast and such a joy to see how happy it made my grandma. I know I've talked about it before but she was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year so it's always a blessing when the family can get together like this and spend time with one another!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Why I Don't Use the Word Cheats/Treats/Splurge/Junk

This is something I've been hesitant to post for awhile because let's be honest we all have different opinions and often times someone will let you know it. Maybe I just have really nice people who read my blog but I don't get a lot of negativity. With that being said, I always try to be sensitive to the fact that we all have different opinions but this topic is something that I think is very important and I want to talk about it. 

I have slowly stopped labeling all foods and it is for a very good reason. I also have stopped calling certain foods and meals "cheats", "splurges", "treats" etc. 

My friend and I were talking the other day about how we just want to think of food as food. There are no good foods, no bad foods, no clean foods, no unclean foods, no superfoods, no lamefoods. It's all just food. 

Why do I think this is important? Because I think it can make a world of difference in having a healthy relationship with food. 

When I think back to the blissful pre-restricting days where I would literally eat whatever I wanted. I don't know how I did it, but if I wanted something I ate it. Just like that. No second thoughts, no guessing myself, no guilt. Period. I just ate. My meals were balanced, I worked out, and my body was happy. It was all so simple, but for the past three and a half years I have not been able to do that. 

Now, I literally cannot fathom doing that. I hate that it's the truth but I know, I know I will get it back. I already have a much healthier relationship with food and my body, but this is my ultimate goal. More than feeling comfortable in my body, more than intuitive eating. 

I simply want to just eat. 

With this reverse, I made a promise to myself that I would not do "cheat meals". Rather I just consider it to be a break from tracking or an untracked meal. That is different to me than a cheat because first things first, it doesn't automatically imply something bad. The word "cheat" itself has such a negative connotation to me, like you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing.

I also don't like the connotations that splurge and treat have with regarding food. As if you have to earn your food so you get a treat or the way people use it to justify something. I think that is a mentality that needs to be stopped entirely. You don't have to earn any food. Your body needs food to survive. For me, I now think of as food to fuel my workouts not the other way around. I used to think that since I worked out, I got to eat. That turned out to be such an unhealthy way of thinking for me. 

Why can't it just be a scenario like this: 

"I think I want a scoop of ice cream.
Yeah, Imma eat that ice cream.
Good decision, that hit the spot."

End of story. 

That's honestly how I used to do it. I ate foods in moderation. I didn't have ice cream every day but even if I did it wouldn't have been the end of the world. You know why? Because I had a perfectly healthy relationship with food, and could stop at a small scoop. I wasn't pressured to fit in more or eat all of it that I could because come tomorrow, I'd have to be 'back on track'. 

No, I knew I could have ice cream whenever I wanted so I would enjoy small amounts of it rather frequently. Same thing with any other food. 

During this reverse, I challenge myself. If I want something, I make it fit. I don't tell myself "wait til Friday and then you can have it". If it's not the weekend and I want something then I will arrange my macros to fit it in. I have stopped doing planned untracked meals because I don't think it's healthy (for me) to deny myself something in the hopes of getting it in a much larger quantity in a few days where I can have the excuse "but it's my cheat..."

I think to get back that ability to eat whatever, whenever then I need to stop planning out cheats and calling them that. If something goes untracked, well then it's just not tracked. No panicked feelings, no stressing over it. And sometimes there are days where I feel like loosely tracking and that's okay. It's not going to hurt my progress and in all honesty it helps my mentality. Eventually that is what I want to do, have days where I eat intuitively and without thought.

I want that freedom back, and it is definitely going to be a mental challenge. It's all about baby steps, though, so stopping with the labels entirely was the first step for me. I already have a much healthier relationship with food compared to three years ago, but as always it's a process. I'm not saying everyone else needs to do what I'm doing, but I'm just being open with my experience and what works for me.

I'm not trying to argue that there aren't differences between foods. Obviously I realize that an apple and ice cream sandwich contain different nutrients and vitamins, but if you're looking at just carbs they're pretty similar. So if there's a day where I know I need to incorporate more micros, I will pick the apple. But, I'm not trying to say that the ice cream sandwich is a bad choice. All it simply is is picking what my body needs that day. If I've already hit my fiber and got plenty of micros in, I will enjoy an ice cream sandwich because to me it isn't "bad". It's just a carb source, and my body happens to be in love with carbs. A love story to probably rival Romeo & Juliet (except with a much happier ending and more food).

My point is overall I think it's better to move away from labels, and just looking at food as fuels. Depending on what works for your body and what you need that will all look different for us all. It can also be a personal choice where someone might not want to pick the ice cream sandwich over an apple, and that is 100% fine with me. If someone wants to eat only organic, I have no issues with that or judgment and I certainly won't laugh in their face as I'm eating an Oreo. I just don't want to consider that Oreo as a "treat", "splurge", "reward", or any of those words that hold a negative connotation to me. I also don't want to be told my someone that I'm killing my insides either.

To me, food is food. Whoever disagrees with me just has to realize that is a personal preference. It is a way to ensure that I keep myself as mentally healthy as possible. I only ask for mutual respect that my lifestyle might look different than someone else's. In the end, we are all just trying to do what is best for ourselves, and that is the thought we have to keep in mind.